Scenario: Bathroom Break

As an action learning coach, how would you handle the following situation:

The session has been going for a long stretch and participants start stepping out to use the bathroom.

Tags: Action Learning Coach, WIAL Action Learning

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Comments (11)

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    Aaron Nunez

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    As an action learning coach, I will do the following:

    1. I will check with the group by stating, “I noticed that members are stepping out to use the bathroom, how would you like proceed?” Most probably the rest of the participants would call for a necessity break as this would be an urgent need for them. I will also check with the team how long and what time they will be back.

    2. When the team returns, I’ll welcome them back and ask the following sequence of questions: (a) how can they support each other better so practical and personal needs are being met?; (b) how can the team bring up to speed everyone in the group based from where we last left our discussion? (c) who has the first question?

    My actions are geared towards the team taking ownership. I would not be so keen in doing a learning intervention right now but if the same scenario happens the second time around, then it is something I have to consider.

    Thanks,
    Aaron Nunez

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    Sylvia Coachman

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    I would ask the people still in the room ‘How the want to handle this situation’? If they call a quick break, I’ll ask ‘how much time the’ll considere for that and then check ‘Are all of us OK to be back on work in X minutes?’
    If they come back in time, I’ll would acknowledge positively and then ask “What’s the best way to catch up from where we were”? and then “Who has the next question?”.

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    jkenger

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    I would throw it back to the team by asking, “Has anyone else noticed some of the team have stepped out to use the restroom. How would you like to handle that?”

    If they call for a break, I would ask, “How long do you need for the break?” and “Who will update the team members who have already left the room?”

    If they decide to continue, I would ask, “What are the impacts if those team members aren’t here to participate in the conversation?” and “Do we need to establish a norm around breaks and bathroom use?”

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    Tasha

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    As the AL Coach I would say: “I observe that a few team members are stepping out of the session, would the rest of the team like to pause for a short break?’ If the group says yes then a short break would be taken as well as establishing the length of same. When the session resumes, I would seek to establish whether the group would wish to schedule any set subsequent breaks to possibly avoid a reoccurrence of what happened earlier in the session. Then ask “who has the next question?”

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  • Avatar

    Craig Senecal

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    Ask: What have you noticed has been happening with the group? What does the group want to do about it?

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    miesdekoning

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    Ask:
    How are we doing with planning breaks?
    Or Ask:
    How are we using our time?
    Or Ask:
    How important is it for everyone that the complete group is at the table throughout the session?

    And possibly follow up with:
    -What is the impact of that on the group/ learning/ problem solving?
    -How can we do this better?

    Reply

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    Patricia De Leon - Henry

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    As a coach I would do the following:

    The team has been working diligently for the past XX minutes and I have observed that the team members are taking frequent bathroom breaks. How does impact on the work of any team? What would the team like to do about this?

    This way the team can be empowered to determine whether they need to establish breaks during the session for the participants.

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    PeterKao

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    If using the bathroom is legitimate and is arranged by the team then I will step to the bathroom myself:) If using the bathroom is an act of withdrawing from the team session then I will intervene by either doing a team participation vote and asking what team is going to do about it, or confronting team directly with “I noticed people are stepping outside the team. What will everyone say about this?”

    I will remember to show a touch of humor when I intervene considering the stretch people have gone through.

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    andrewleetk

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    I would highlight my observations that team members are leaving the discussion to use bathroom, and ask “We have been working for quite a while, do we want to take a break to stretch ourselves?”.

    Normally the answer would be “yes” to a break, and I would ask the team for a time to return and resume the session.

    Upon their return, I would welcome them and acknowledge their effort before the break.I would then pose a question to the team, “Do we, as a team, wants to establish a time for the next break?” This is empower the team to decide if they wish to have another break at a pre-agreed timing, or to continue the session till the end. Giving them the choice as well as ownership to their participation.

    Once that is decided, I would ask “Who has the next question?”

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  • Avatar

    DrBea

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    Yes – it is about empowering the team. I would avoid directive questions such as – how will we catch them up? The team might decide that is not the best use of their time.

    Given the apparent urgency of the situation I would jump right to – I’ve observed we’ve lost a couple team members, did anyone else notice that? (Obvious answer) what’s the impact of this on our problem solving? How would we like to proceed?
    My assumption is the team would opt for a break. To which, I would ask when shall we resume.
    When we were all together again- I would welcome them and ask what norms we should establish in terms of breaks.

    Happy Coaching
    Bea

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Isha Frank

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    As the Action Learning Coach I would ask the following questions:

    1. I have observed that team members have been leaving the session to use the washroom, Has anyone else observed this? The group would then answer, ” What is the impact of this on the team that members are abruptly leaving the session?” and then I would ask “How do we want to handle this situation?” as well as “What would the impact of doing that be on the team”. I would like ask the team if they would like to take a break since we have been working awhile on solving the problem and what norms we can apply to the group to ensure that the session flow without sudden interruptions.

    Reply

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